by Nathan Yick, Slow Food SDSU Chapter Leader
San Diego has over 300* Master Gardeners, passionate gardeners who serve and educate San Diegans on pest control and horticulture for free. Part of a rigorous training program founded in 1980, by the University of California Cooperative Extension, they work alongside teachers and parents helping children with their garden projects. They help community gardens overcome challenges with their plots, and with the drought plaguing California, their services and knowledge are much needed in the gardens.
To help San Diego communities combat the drought, the Master Gardeners have developed their Earth Friendly Gardening program. This program trains gardeners in sustainable gardening addressing things like how to adapt to the drought by providing information on creating an earth friendly garden--information on how to conserve water, maintain soil quality, and reduce waste. Thanks to the Master Gardeners, Community Gardens all over San Diego, like the Agape House by San Diego State University, have thrived and continue to provide fresh and local produce for the community.
"One of my favorite things about being a Master Gardener is helping people with their gardening challenges," says Dominick Fiume who became a Master Gardener through working at the Ark of Taste Heritage Garden in Old Town State Park.
As fulfilling and rewarding experience it is being a Master Gardener, becoming one takes a lot of work. To become certified, students go through a training program consisting of 16 weekly classes taught by agricultural experts which educate aspiring volunteers on pest management and horticulture. They must pass an exam and then volunteer regularly as well as continue their education to keep their certification.
Through their commitment, knowledge and passion for public service in gardening and pest control, the Master Gardeners have helped San Diego communities preserve and create more sustainable gardens.
SFUSD is excited that this passionate and knowledgeable San Diego resource is participating in our 2015 Good Food Community Fair. Look for their booth on wise water use.
*the original story in the Sept newsletter reported there were over 60 Master Gardeners in San Diego. San Diego has over 300.